china's sacred literature

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A brief look at some important concepts and principles from China's philosphical heritage


  • 1. Chinas Sacred Literature Joe Carter 2013 12 17
  • 2. Shoghi Effendi Chinas sacred literature is part of its cultural and spiritual resources. China, a land which has its own world and civilization, whose people (in 1923) constitute one-fourth of the population of the globe, which ranks foremost among all nations in material, cultural, and spiritual resources and potentialities, and whose future is assuredly bright. 1950 Establishment of the United Nations Letter from Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of the East, 23 January 1923. China Pop: 1.3 billion (2007), World Pop: 6.6 billion (2007), China = 19.7%
  • 3. Abdul-Baha We must know Chinas sacred literature. China has the most great capability. The Chinese people are most simple-hearted and truth-seeking Truly, I say, the Chinese are free from any deceit and hypocrisies and are prompted with ideal motives. China is the country of the future. We must first be imbued with their spirit, know their sacred literature, study their national customs and speak to them from their own standpoint and their own terminologies. Abdul-Baha, Reported in "Star of the West", vol. 8, April 28, 1917, No.3, p.37
  • 4. What constitutes Chinas sacred literature? I assume there are two important parts: 1.Buddhism, especially Chinese Mahayana Buddhism 2.Chinas Philosophical Heritage The Hundred Schools of Thought (Chinese: ; Pinyin: zh z bi ji) was an era of great cultural and intellectual expansion in China that lasted from 770 to 222 BCE. Coinciding with the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, and also known as the Golden Age of Chinese thought. Many of the great Chinese classic texts that originated during this period have had profound influences on Chinese lifestyle and social consciousness lasting to the present day. (Confucius, Mencius, Laozi, Zhuangzi, and Mozi, to name few. Does the latter count as sacred? Sacred can be defined as: Associated with the divine. There are many references in Chinese philosophy to Heaven, the will of Heaven, etc. According to these philosophers, the goal of Chinese civilization is harmony between Heaven and earth. Considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion; or inspiring awe or reverence among believers in a given set of spiritual ideas. Although none of Chinas revered philosophers claimed to be the founder of a religion, their profound thoughts are worthy of spiritual respect and they inspire awe as a set of spiritual ideas.
  • 5. Chinas Sacred Literature (as represented by the Hundred Schools of Thought ) The Great Unity Vision and Goal The Great Learning Method of Implementation Both the Great Unity and the Great Learning are from Confucian thought.
  • 6. The Great Unity What is the vision of development? What are the goals of development? The Great Unity begins with Social-Spiritual Goals and Principles The period of the Great Unity (Da Tong) is characterized by: Confucius 551 - 479 BC Universal openness and fairness; All the world will be a common possession; The whole world is bent upon the common good. Leaders of society will combine talent, virtue, and ability. The wise and able are elected (selected). The cultivation of sincerity and harmony; and Love extends beyond the family to the society at large. All men will be bound by equal ties of intimacy.
  • 7. The Great Unity The passage continues by describing the practical implementation and indicators of the above goals and principles. Sufficient provision shall be secured for the aged till their death and competent employment for the able-bodied and Adequate means of upbringing for the young. Confucius 551 - 479 BC Kindness and compassion shall be shown to widows, orphans, childless people, and those who are disabled by disease, so that they will have the wherewithal for support. Men will have their proper works and women will have their homes. They shall hate to see the wealth of natural resources under-developed, but also dislike to see the hoarding of wealth for their own pleasures. They shall regret of not exerting themselves (of their given talents) but also hate to exert themselves only for their own benefit. Thus, the selfish schemes shall be repressed and found no development. Robbers, filchers, and the rebellious traitors shall not appear, and hence the outer doors shall be left open.
  • 8. The Great Unity The idea is still present in Chinese thought today, for example, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Theme: One World One Dream
  • 9. The Great Learning The ancients who wished to illustrate illustrious virtue throughout the kingdom, first ordered well their own states. Wishing to order well their states, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons. Wishing to cultivate their persons, they first rectified their hearts. Wishing to rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things. Things being investigated, knowledge became complete. Their knowledge being complete, their thoughts were sincere. Their thoughts being sincere, their hearts were then rectified. Their hearts being rectified, their persons were cultivated. Their persons being cultivated, their families were regulated. Their families being regulated, their states were rightly governed. Their states being rightly governed, the whole kingdom was made tranquil and happy. Confucianism, LiJi, DaXue 2:
  • 10. The process in the Great Learning relates the accomplishment of peaceful development with the internal life of the nation, the well-being of society to the spiritual health of the individual. "From the son of Heaven down to the mass of the people, all must consider the cultivation of their person as the root of everything besides." The investigation of reality by the individual is the fulcrum upon which the inner and outer balance depends. The Great Learning
  • 11. The Great Learning The Great Learning puts the individual, the family, the state, and the kingdom, all on the same Path, the establishment of the Great Unity. Individual transformation is achieved through investigation, learning, and self-cultivation, and by participation in the transformation of society. Desiring to maintain one, one sustains others; desiring to develop oneself, one develops others. Doctrine of the Mean (Zhong Yong), 22 The virtuous man wants others to succeed. The Analects 15:23 There is a reciprocal relationship between individual transformation and social transformation. Twofold Purpose: 1. Develop Individual spiritual and intellectual capacity 2. Transform Society
  • 12. Heaven Authority Confucianism, Li Ji, Li Yun. Relationship He who obeys the will of Heaven, loving universally and benefiting others, will obtain rewards. He who opposes the will of Heaven, by being partial and unfriendly and harming others, will incur punishment. Covenant The Great Unity is Heavens Plan Therefore when the principle of obeying the will of Heaven is understood and widely practiced in the world, then justice and government will be orderly, the multitudes will be harmonious, the country will be wealthy, the supplies will be plenteous, and the people will be warmly clothed and sufficiently fed, peaceful and without worry. Mozi The Individual, The Family, The Community, Rulers The Great Unity is the protagonists goal The protagonists of social development must follow the Will of Heaven to achieve the Great Unity. Material prosperity and security are dependent on understanding the principle of obeying the will of heaven.
  • 13. Other Selections from Chinas Hundred Schools of Thought Unity in Diversity If voices are the same no one will listen; if things are alike none have decoration; If tastes are the same there is no fruit; if things are the same there is nothing to talk about. [1] Divine Civilization The Master said, "If the people be led by laws, and uniformity sought to be given them by punishments, they will try to avoid the punishment, but have no sense of shame. If th